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Influenced by PETA, a lot of people have already changed to vegan status. I would like to know how well the transition may work? It can be either in a physical or mental way.

Some have changed for religious views, some for humanitarian reasons. But I would like to know the health beneficial aspects.

9

This is a question that cannot be answered by a simple yes or no.

As a vegetarian for health purposes (who was a vegan for 1 year) I say that the human isn't supposed to be vegetarian, but rather an opportunistic omnivore. The fact that we can eat meat doesn't mean we have to.

Most of people that went from non-vegetarian to vegetarian (no meat, no fish) felt better the following weeks, however the reasons could be numerous and ambiguous:

  • Maybe they were eating too much meat until they stopped ?
  • Maybe the meat they were buying was bad quality meat ?

Anyway, most of meat and fish's nutrients we need to live healthy are proven to be in eggs and milk with enough quantities.

Concerning the vegans (no eggs, no milk), the most recurrent problem is about the vitamin B12 that is very hardly obtained in vegan food, it can be found in some mushrooms, but in most cases you'll have to eat 4kg of that a day to fulfill your daily needs. It can also be found in some algaes and supplements like spirulina, but in that form it is nearly impossible for the body to be absorbed. Even though you might feel better the first year of veganism, you might be sick later on, even though some vegans never become sick.

It also depends of the genes of each person. Some African ethnicities have evolved eating a lot of meat per day and still they remain healthier than most of people from Western countries. On the other hand, most Romans from the antiquity were eating less than 1kg of meat per month.

I think that the best way to find how being vegetarian is good for you is to try it out by yourself, pay attention at how you feel, and have regular blood tests.

Reference: What Everyone (Especially Vegetarians) Should Know About B12 Deficiency

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    This post has the makings of a very good answer, but here on Health, we strongly encourage using references. They are the only way in which we can tell if information is reliable or not. If you are struggling to find good sources, check out, What are reliable sources? If you want to learn more about our site's stance on answers without references, check out, Should answers without references be immediately deleted? Thanks :) – michaelpri Jun 6 '15 at 14:02
  • Thanks, I will try to find some reliable references, a thing that is a bit hard for me :p – Vae_ newbis Jun 6 '15 at 14:11
  • Note that many products for vegetarians/vegans (such as soy milk, vegetarian "meat", etc.) are fortified with B12. – Martin Tournoij Jun 17 '15 at 14:52
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    I heard about this, but it looks more complicated than that. I see 4 different kinds of B12 which are not absorbed the same way by the human body, so you need to ask yourself: Are those B12 vegan ? Are they well assimilated by the organism ? Etc... – Vae_ newbis Jun 18 '15 at 14:05
11

This subject is very broad and a detailed answer would require to be a whole book. Shortly I can say that vegetarians and vegans have lower rates of mortality (both by ischemic heart disease and total) (1-3) and lower incidence rates of diabetes (4) and cancer (5,6). Vegetarian diets are related to lower blood pressure (7,8), lower body weight and Body Mass Index (BMI) (3,9), lower serum levels of total and LDL cholesterol (3) (LDL is "the bad one"), lower levels of C-reactive protein (10) (= show a lower lever of chronical inflammation), and higher insulin sensitivity (11) (this means they're less prone to diabetes). All this has been found studying people that were already vegetarian or vegan at the moment of the study.

There are also experiments of people switching their diet to vegetarian or vegan for medical purpose, say get rid of diabetes or heart disease. A review of these successful experiments is here; basically people who switched to a low-fat lof-glycemic index vegan diet showed improvements in body weight, BMI, waist circumference, total and LDL cholesterol, triglycerides, glycemic control, insulin resistance, less need for drugs, reduction of cardiac events, reversal of heart disease. (12-16)

If you want to read more scientific studies on vegetarianism you might also want to check these: 17-21.

Finally I would like to add my personal experience (3 years vegetarian + 8 vegan): I feel better, my mind is more active, I can keep working or studying after lunch, I stopped having terrible pain in the intestine (probably due to putrefaction of meat during digestion) and my blood analysis are perfect.

References

  1. Chang-Claude J, Frentzel-Beyme R. Dietary and Lifestyle Determinants of Mortality among German Vegetarians. Int J Epidemiol. 1993;22(2):228-236. doi:10.1093/ije/22.2.228.

  2. Thorogood M, Mann J, Appleby P, McPherson K. Risk of death from cancer and ischaemic heart disease in meat and non-meat eaters. BMJ. 1994;308(6945):1667-1670. doi:10.1136/bmj.308.6945.1667.

  3. Key TJ, Fraser GE, Thorogood M, et al. Mortality in vegetarians and nonvegetarians: detailed findings from a collaborative analysis of 5 prospective studies. Am J Clin Nutr. 1999;70(3):516S-524. Available at: http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/70/3/516s.short. Accessed May 15, 2015.

  4. Snowdon DA, Phillips RL. Does a vegetarian diet reduce the occurrence of diabetes? Am J Public Health. 1985;75(5):507-512. doi:10.2105/AJPH.75.5.507.

  5. Huang T, Yang B, Zheng J, Li G, Wahlqvist ML, Li D. Cardiovascular disease mortality and cancer incidence in vegetarians: a meta-analysis and systematic review. Ann Nutr Metab. 2012;60(4):233-40. doi:10.1159/000337301.

  6. Lanou AJ, Svenson B. Reduced cancer risk in vegetarians: an analysis of recent reports. Cancer Manag Res. 2010;3:1-8. doi:10.2147/CMR.S6910.

  7. Fu C-H, Yang CCH, Lin C-L, Kuo TBJ. Effects of long-term vegetarian diets on cardiovascular autonomic functions in healthy postmenopausal women. Am J Cardiol. 2006;97(3):380-3. doi:10.1016/j.amjcard.2005.08.057.

  8. Appleby PN, Davey GK, Key TJ. Hypertension and blood pressure among meat eaters, fish eaters, vegetarians and vegans in EPIC-Oxford. Public Health Nutr. 2002;5(5):645-54. doi:10.1079/PHN2002332.

  9. Spencer EA, Appleby PN, Davey GK, Key TJ. Diet and body mass index in 38000 EPIC-Oxford meat-eaters, fish-eaters, vegetarians and vegans. Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord. 2003;27(6):728-34. doi:10.1038/sj.ijo.0802300.

  10. Krajcovicova-Kudlackova M, Blazicek P. C-reactive protein and nutrition. Bratisl Lek Listy. 2005;106(11):345-7. Available at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16541618. Accessed May 15, 2015.

  11. Kuo C-S, Lai N-S, Ho L-T, Lin C-L. Insulin sensitivity in Chinese ovo-lactovegetarians compared with omnivores. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2004;58(2):312-6. doi:10.1038/sj.ejcn.1601783.

  12. Barnard, N. D., Cohen, J., Jenkins, D. J. A., Turner-McGrievy, G., Gloede, L., Green, A., & Ferdowsian, H. (2009). A low-fat vegan diet and a conventional diabetes diet in the treatment of type 2 diabetes: a randomized, controlled, 74-wk clinical trial. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 89(5), 1588S–1596S. doi:10.3945/ajcn.2009.26736H

  13. Ornish, D., Brown, S. E., Billings, J. H., Scherwitz, L. W., Armstrong, W. T., Ports, T. A., … Brand, R. J. (1990). Can lifestyle changes reverse coronary heart disease? The Lancet, 336(8708), 129–133. doi:10.1016/0140-6736(90)91656-U

  14. Esselstyn, C. B. (1999). Updating a 12-year experience with arrest and reversal therapy for coronary heart disease (an overdue requiem for palliative cardiology). The American Journal of Cardiology, 84(3), 339–341. doi:10.1016/S0002-9149(99)00290-8

  15. Jenkins, D. J. A., Kendall, C. W. C., Marchie, A., Faulkner, D. A., Wong, J. M. W., de Souza, R., … Connelly, P. W. (2003). Effects of a dietary portfolio of cholesterol-lowering foods vs lovastatin on serum lipids and C-reactive protein. JAMA, 290(4), 502–10. doi:10.1001/jama.290.4.502

  16. Jenkins, D. J. A., Kendall, C. W. C., Faulkner, D., Vidgen, E., Trautwein, E. A., Parker, T. L., … Connelly, P. W. (2002). A dietary portfolio approach to cholesterol reduction: combined effects of plant sterols, vegetable proteins, and viscous fibers in hypercholesterolemia. Metabolism: Clinical and Experimental, 51(12), 1596–604. doi:10.1053/meta.2002.35578

  17. Craig, Winston, J., Mangels, Ann, R., Craig, W. J., & Mangels, A. R. (2009). Position of the American Dietetic Association: vegetarian diets. Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 109(7), 1266–82. doi:10.1016/j.jada.2009.05.027

  18. Ferdowsian, H. R., & Barnard, N. D. (2009). Effects of plant-based diets on plasma lipids. The American Journal of Cardiology, 104(7), 947–56. doi:10.1016/j.amjcard.2009.05.032

  19. Jenkins, D. J. A., Kendall, C. W., Marchie, A., Jenkins, A. L., Augustin, L. S., Ludwig, D. S., … Anderson, J. W. (2003). Type 2 diabetes and the vegetarian diet. Am J Clin Nutr, 78(3), 610S–616. Retrieved from http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/78/3/610S.short

  20. Trapp, C. B., & Barnard, N. D. (2010). Usefulness of vegetarian and vegan diets for treating type 2 diabetes. Current Diabetes Reports, 10(2), 152–8. doi:10.1007/s11892-010-0093-7

  21. Trapp, C., & Levin, S. (2012). Preparing to Prescribe Plant-Based Diets for Diabetes Prevention and Treatment. Diabetes Spectrum, 25(1), 38–44. doi:10.2337/diaspect.25.1.38

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    Whoa! Your reference text beats the answer size :) Yes, as you said, the switch has benefited me as well(mentally), not sure about physically yet. – m4n0 Jun 20 '15 at 12:08
  • How long have you been eating vegetarian? vegetarian or vegan? – Attilio Jun 20 '15 at 12:21
  • 6 months. I used to eat non-veg for around once/month before though. – m4n0 Jun 20 '15 at 12:25
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5

In 2013, as an already healthy athlete, I decided to stop eating meat, eggs, and dairy products and switch to a plant-based diet. Very soon thereafter, I noticed significant positive changes, realized what it truly meant to be a human being, and never looked back again.

Note: Once you access any of the sources below, to see the supporting peer-reviewed articles, click on the sources cited tab.

More energy (1), better athletic performance (2), faster muscle recovery (3), less inflammation (4) (5), better and more frequent bowel movement (6) (7) (8), better blood sugar (9), less cholesterol (10), lower risk of cancer or better said cancerlet (11) (12 Latest-evidence based information on cancer can be found in chapter 3 of the book The China Study Revised and Expanded Edition) and much, much more.

A vegetarian diet includes eggs and dairy products which, whether organic or not, still contain the same main components that meat does - cholesterol, high amounts of saturated fat, no fiber, and almost no antioxidants (13). So I only speak in the name of a whole food plant-based diet.

Below is a picture comparing 500 calories of animal foods vs 500 calories of plant foods. Note the animal foods' cholesterol, high amounts of saturated fat, and no fiber. Data sources for the data in the picture: • USDA Nutrient Database. http://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/ • Holden JM, Eldridge AL, Beecher GR, et al. “Carotenoid content of U.S. foods: an update of the database.” J. Food Comp. Anal. 12 (1999): 169–196. • Campbell, T. Colin (2016) Chart 11.2 The China Study. Benbella Books.

500 calories of plant foods vs 500 calories of animal foods

Here is a picture that shows the food categories that I strive to consume on a daily basis. Each category, every day. And of course, remember to exercise and manage stress.

proper plant-based diet

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    Welcome to Health.SE. Since health is an important topic, the site has a strict policy that all answers should be backed up with reliable references so that the answer can be independently verified, regardless of the reader's background. See this list of reliable sources. If you still have trouble with this, feel free to visit the help center or Medical Sciences Meta. – Carey Gregory May 25 '18 at 18:24
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    In short, personal experiences and opinions don't make acceptable answers here. This isn't a discussion forum; it's a Q&A site where answers are required to be based on credible sources. You might want to take a tour of the help center and learn how the site works. – Carey Gregory May 25 '18 at 18:26
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    Thank you for the welcoming Carey. I shall take note of what you've said and apply it in the future posts. – Matty May 25 '18 at 18:42
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    @Matty - The entire post is a "Here's what I do" with no references. As many have suggested, there are links you can read to help find out what makes a good answer here. If this post can't be improved, it could be deleted for failing to meet site standards. – JohnP May 27 '18 at 18:28
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    Per the suggestions, I have added the supporting references. To health! – Matty Jun 1 '18 at 12:07

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